Darby's Bible Synopsis
Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
The following commentary covers Psalm 9 and 10.
In Psalm 9 and 10 we enter historically on the circumstances of the remnant in the last days in the land. The great principles having been laid down (the remnant Messiah trial in the midst of Israel through His rejection a path He had learnt in person glory in the Son of man), we get in these a preface as regards the circumstances, a laying of them down, that the scene of the exercises, the state of things which gives rise to these, and the deliverance wrought by the judgment of God, may be plainly before us.
We may remark here, in confirmation of previously expressed judgments, that the righteous man, Messiah, according to the counsels of God, but rejected (with the consequent sorrows of the remnant into which He thus enters), and in result glorified as Son of man, and set over all the works of God's hands, having been brought before us in the first eight psalms, we find ourselves at once (when entering on the historical detail of circumstances) in the last days, the righteous remnant being under the oppression of the wicked and the heathen. Messiah, in Spirit, in the oppressed remnant, owns the righteousness of Jehovah, in judgment, sitting on the throne judging right.
Remark the great difference here, in passing, between the celebration of the righteousness of God, sitting in the throne, judging right, and vindicating the righteous man from the oppressor, and Christ on the cross, who was not vindicated on the earth, but declares Himself forsaken of God (His enemies, outwardly, having all their will against Him), and then righteousness being established in a heavenly way, God's righteousness in setting Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. "Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more." As regards this righteousness, He was taken completely out of the world, so that the disciples as in flesh, as was the case with the Jews saw Him no more. He had glorified God, and was glorified in God, as God has been in Him. The righteousness which judged the oppressor, though executed by God who alone is really righteous and has power, had its sphere and measure in earthly government, and in discerning the righteous and the wicked among men, the oppressed and the oppressor. It was connected with the righteous government of God. The clear apprehension of this difference is a key to the whole frame of thought in the Psalms.
Another point, it may be useful to remark, is this. In the English translation several words are translated people: Am [See Note #1] in the singular, people, or Ammi [See Note #2] my people (Israel): Goim [See Note #3] heathens or nations, that is, those outside, who are in contrast with Israel as the people of God. Israel is so designated to mark its guilt, Psalm 43:1. Leummim [See Note #4] the peoples and nations in general on the earth, the various races of mankind; 'Ammim peoples in the plural, I think the nations viewed in connection with Israel restored and taken into relationship with Jehovah.
To turn now to the psalms before us: Psalm 9 presents to us Jehovah, the Most High (the names of God which connect themselves with the Jews, and the millennial accomplishment of the promises made to Abraham), delivering the people by judgment from the oppression of the heathen, and destroying the wicked. The delivered Jew celebrates this goodness which has maintained the right and cause of the righteous. The Spirit of Christ speaks fully in this, as having taken up their interests. It is really His right. If the Jew has any, it is through Him. If they say it, He has put the words in their mouth. Indeed, if Christ had not entered into their sorrow, and given them these words, they could not have said, My right.
Let us consider this (as to circumstances) first leading psalm with somewhat more detail. The humble and oppressed one praises God with his whole heart, under the double name of Jehovah and Most High. [See Note #5] The turning back of his enemies is not merely a human victory. They fall and perish before the presence of Jehovah Elohim. But this was to maintain the right and cause of the godly one really the right and cause of Christ, who had thus thrown Himself into their portion in gracious sympathy. In Verse 6 (Psalm 9:6) a very important principle is brought out for faith at all times, then to be verified in fact. The efforts of the enemy here are for time. He can destroy, if God allow, present prosperity. The Lord endures for ever. We have only to do His will by the way. He has always His way at the end. That will which we do by the way, perhaps in sorrow and suffering then, will surely reign at the end of the way. Destructions were now to come to a perpetual end the cities and their memory had been destroyed. Jehovah endures for ever.
We have heard of the patience of Job that was by the way; we have seen the end of the Lord that is the ground for faith. It walks with Him who certainly has the end at His command. He shall endure for ever has prepared His throne for judgment. He will judge the world universal in righteousness, and minister judgment to the peoples in uprightness. This was the public character of Jehovah. But there was a private part of His character, so to speak, the making of which however also public, is the great subject of the psalm; and indeed with that first public one, the great subject of all the psalms. Both are known only to faith, but are celebrated beforehand. This second part is this: Jehovah is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. The result is confidence in Jehovah at all times on the part of those who know His name. The intervention of Jehovah in that day in favor of those that seek Him will make good this name everywhere.
Another point is brought out also. Jehovah dwells in Zion as thus revealing Himself. His doings, what He does for the display of His name through judgment in favor of the remnant, are to be declared among the peoples [See Note #6] another word than that often used, and signifying, I apprehend, the peoples that He owns that they may be able thus to trust in Him. He is returned thus to Zion at the close. Verses 13-14, (Psalm 9:13-14), are the cry of the remnant, and on the ground of mercy, that their hearts may praise Jehovah in Zion, as well as because of His judgments; Verse 15 (Psalm 9:15) celebrates the judgment; and the moral, so to speak, is told in Verse 16 (Psalm 9:16). Jehovah is known by the judgment which He executes. The way in which this psalm serves as a preface for understanding the scope of the book, and its application to the last days, is evident. Once seized, it largely helps in the intelligence of the whole book. In Verse 17 (Psalm 9:17) the wicked, [See Note #7] be they who they may, Jew as well as Gentile, and indeed particularly the Jew, and all the nations who forget God, [See Note #8] are shown to be rejected and judged, and to have their place in Hades by judgment. And in this God remembers the needy, for the destruction of the wicked is their deliverance. Hence for this, for Jehovah to arise, is the cry of the remnant. This feature explains certain expressions in the psalms to which I have before alluded the demand for judgment. Compare the characters of the judged ones in Romans 1-2. Only there the wrath is from heaven, not governmental on earth from Zion; and a greater moral development will be found, as was to be expected, and not the external judgment of nations. [See Note #9]
The body of Psalm 10 depicts the state of things in the last days, until Jehovah arises to judgment, and more especially the character of the wicked, for he is known by his character, and is especially to be found in the Jew. Compare Isaiah 40-48 and 49-58: in the one passage, the question being particularly idolatry and Babylon; in the second, the rejection of Messiah (the two capital sins which bring the Jews to judgment Jehovah, and His Anointed). The wicked in his pride acts upon that which is seen; as the righteous by faith on the character of Jehovah, faith in Him. The wicked boasts himself in his heart's desire, and blesses him (counts him happy, that is) whom Jehovah abhors. He pursues his plans without conscience, seeking to destroy the humble by craft, and reckons that God has forgotten him. How well Christ could help them here! The humble cry under the oppression. Why does Jehovah stand afar off, and hide Himself in the time of trouble?
They were far indeed from being where Christ was, yet the shadow, so to speak, of that sorrow was passing over them, but they could hope in God. So in Verse 12 (Psalm 10:12). They call upon God to lift up His hand not forget the humble: why should the wicked contemn God? Jehovah has seen it and will requite; the poor committed himself to Him. Verse 16 to the end (Psalm 10:16-18) celebrates Jehovah's coming in reply, and its results. Jehovah is King for ever; the heathen are perished out of His land. There is the public judgment; now the secret of the Lord. Jehovah has heard the desire of the humble. He prepared their heart, and then hearkened; and that hearing will be in judging, in being Judge for the fatherless and the oppressed, so that the man of the earth, he who had his strength and hope there, should no more oppress.
One or two remarks are required on both psalms. There are two parties, and in a certain sense three, besides the poor humbled remnant who wait upon God: the heathen (Goim), strangers to Israel, who oppress them, enemies of God; and the wicked, then more especially among the Jews, as we have seen. I have said three, because the wicked are spoken of in a double way. In general, indeed exclusively so in Psalm 10 and each time it is used in Psalm 9, except Verse 17 (Psalm 9:17), it is in the singular. In Verse 17 (Psalm 9:17) it is plural, to show that all of them will be cast down into Sheol. In the singular it is, I judge, characteristic; yet I doubt not, there will be one special wicked one The Lawless One, 2 Thessalonians 2:8; the Antichrist, but known here certainly by his character, not by a distinct prophecy of his person. The lawlessness is manifested, but not The Lawless One, and it is not confined to one. The analogy of this, with the circumstances in which Christ was in His rejection on earth, is very plain, as is the case with all the forms of wickedness. The very Trinity is imitated in mischief in the Apocalypse. There is the city of corruption, as the bride of Christ; and so on.
Up to this, save as the Messiah of God's counsels was brought out in Psalm 2, the righteous man was given characteristically, and here it was necessary to characterize the whole party opposed to Jehovah and His Christ, though one may be the concentrated expression of this character. The remnant were to judge by this character morally. Next, remark, these wicked ones are judged with the heathen; they all come together under the same judgment. The wicked shall be turned into "Sheol," and all the heathen who forget God. So Verse 5 (Psalm 9:5): "Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked." Psalm 9 is, as we have seen, the general view of Jehovah's intervention in judgment. In Psalm 10 we have particularly the position of the sorrow and trial of the remnant within. Hence we find the wicked (man), not the heathen until on the execution of judgment they are found too to have perished out of Jehovah's land, so as to identify the judgment with the general statements of Psalm 9. How completely this all answers to the history we have of the latter days, I need not say.
Psalm 3:8 (here "thy people," the same practically).
Psalm 2:8. The Hebrew references are to the Verses in Hebrew.
These names are not without importance. One is the abiding name of God in Israel, His memorial for ever; the other, the millennial name of God introduced by the judgments spoken of in the psalm. Compare Psalm 91 and Genesis 14:19-20.
Here in the plural. The difference is sometimes important, because, as Paul says, there is that wicked one.
Had not liked to retain God in their knowledge.
In Revelation 4 are found the characters of the seraphim as well as of the cherubim, as prefacing, I believe, the judgments there, as characterized as being according to the holy nature of God as well as governmental. It is true the application of Isaiah 6, where alone the seraphim are found, is to a governmental judgment, because grace preserved a remnant. But the incompatibility of Jehovah and uncleanness with man in himself is what the prophet sees.
The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.
He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.
He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.
He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.
Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.
Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.
Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.
Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.
The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.
LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.